Friday, March 31, 2017

Sen John Thune (R-S.D.) introduces S.763, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act.

On March 30, 2017, Sen John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced S.763, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act.  Sen. Thune is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He’s been in the Senate since 2005 and has served in powerful positions within that body. From Sen. Thune’s website, at
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation, joined Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in reintroducing S. 763, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act. The legislation, which is substantially similar to the bill introduced late last Congress, would address deficiencies in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to protect rail, transit, highway, and maritime passenger and freight transportation.

“To keep Americans safe, Congress must continually focus attention on areas of neglect and potential weakness to keep them from becoming targets for terrorism,” said Thune. “The Commerce Committee will soon vote on these important reforms for the TSA.”
The legislation would address concerns, raised by independent government watchdog agencies, that TSA is not adequately positioned to identify security risks across different modes of transportation or effectively support federal, state, local and private providers of transportation security. TSA has previously said in testimony to Congress that it uses only three percent of its budget on surface transportation security.

Highlights of the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act:

Enhances Risk-Based Security Planning
  • Requires the TSA administrator to conduct a risk analysis and implement a risk-based security model for surface transportation facilities.
  • Mandates risk-based budgeting for surface transportation security focusing resources on current threats with annual reviews of program effectiveness.

Canine Explosive Detection Teams for Surface Transportation
  • Authorizes as many as 70 additional canine teams to work in surface transportation security as soon as possible.
  • Requires a review of the number, location, and utilization of canine teams in surface transportation security to ensure effective use.
  • Following this review and the implementation of recommendations, TSA may then raise the total number of canine teams to 200 or higher as identified in TSA’s risk-based analysis. 
Increases Transparency
  • Mirroring the advisory committee for aviation established by the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2014, establishes a Surface Transportation Advisory Committee to provide stakeholders and the public with the opportunity to coordinate with the agency and comment on policy and pending regulations. 
  • Requires that TSA budget submissions clearly indicate which resources will be used for surface transportation security and which will be dedicated to aviation.
  • Directs TSA to regularly update Congress on the status of long overdue surface transportation rulemakings.

Enhances Passenger Rail Security
  • Authorizes the use of computerized vetting systems for passenger rail at the request of Amtrak police and the Amtrak Board of Directors.
  • Allows grant funding to be used to enhance passenger manifest data so that rail passengers can be identified in case of emergency.
From a quick read of the text of the bill, link from the Senator's website:
The vulnerability assessment off surface transportation modes required of the bill must evaluate  the vetting and security training of employees in maritime transportation and other individuals with access to sensitive or secure areas of transportation networks.
The  Commandant of  the  Coast Guard shall  coordinate  with  the Administrator (of the TSA) to  provide  input  and  other  information regarding  the vulnerabilities of  and  risks  to maritime facilities.  

(1)   In GENERAL - Not   later   than   180 days after  the  date  the  security  assessment  from subsection (a)  is  complete, the  Administrator  shall  use the  results  of  the assessment-
(A)  to develop  and  implement  a cross-cutting, risk-based  security strategy that      includes
(i) all surface transportation modes;
(ii)  to the  extent  the Transportation Security  Administration   provides support in maritime transportation security efforts, maritime  transportation;
(B)  coordinate with  the  Commandant   of the  Coast Guard-
(i)         to evaluate existing maritime transportation  security  programs, policies, and initiatives   for  consistency with  the risk-based  security strategy and, to the extent practicable, avoid any unnecessary duplication   of effort;
(ii)  to   ensure   there  are   no security gaps between  jurisdictional  authorities that a threat can exploit to  cause  harm;
(iii)  to determine  the  extent  to which    stakeholder   security programs, policies, and   initiatives  address  the  vulnerabilities and  risks to  maritime transportation systems, identified in subsection (a); and
(iv)  subject  to clauses  (ii)  and (iii), to mitigate each  vulnerability and       risk   to maritime transportation systems identified in subsection (a).

180 days after the date that the security assessment is completed, TSA shall submit to the appropriate Congressional committees a report that includes, among other items, any   recommended   changes  to the National  Infrastructure Protection  Plan, the  modal   annexes  to the NIPP, or  relevant surface  or  maritime transportation security  programs,   policies, or initiatives.

BUDGET TRANSPARENCY - ln submitting the annual  budget  of  the  United  States  Government under Section 1105  of title 81,  United States Code,  the President  shall clearly distinguish  the  resources requested for surface and maritime transportation  security from  the  resources requested for aviation security.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE   - The   TSA Administrator shall establish  within  the TSA the Surface Transportation  Security Advisory  Committee.  Voting members to serve in a volunteer, non-paid  basis and consist of representatives from associations  representing the  modes of surface transportation;  labor organizations  representing the modes; groups representing  the  users of the modes, including asset manufacturers,  as appropriate;  relevant  law enforcement, first  responders, and security experts; and other   groups   as   the Administrator considers appropriate.